Jason Day closes strong to capture Wells Fargo Championship

May 6, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Jason Day and his family pose on the 18th green with the trophy during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports

Jason Day closes strong to capture Wells Fargo Championship

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Jason Day closes strong to capture Wells Fargo Championship

CHARLOTTE – Nothing was coming easy for Jason Day at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Walking up the 16th fairway to begin Quail Hollow’s infamous Green Mile closing stretch, he’d made more bogeys in his last 15 holes (four) than he had the first 54 (three). To make matters worse, across the lake, a scoreboard confirmed what Day had feared since his bogey two holes earlier – 21-year-old Aaron Wise had caught him at 10-under par for a share of the lead.

That’s when Day, staring down the course’s two most intimidating holes, made back-to-back birdies to earn his 12th career PGA Tour victory in a way befitting of a former World No. 1.

“Being able to finish off strong, and that’s what I’m probably the most happy about is when you’re on call to do something good and you pull it off, that is key,” Day said. “To be clutch like that – and it’s a lot of heart.”

The most stunning shot of the tournament came at its toughest (playing more than half a stroke above par Sunday): the par-3 17th. Following his birdie at 16 to pull one ahead of Wise, Day opted for 7-iron staring down at a green he said looks “real tiny” from 231 yards away with water short, left and long. The plan was to fly the ball into an upslope on the green, killing the momentum and letting it settle near the pin.

In Day’s words, here’s what happened next:

“When I hit it, it was on a cracking line, it was beautiful,” he said. “And then it just had this massive bounce, hit on the downslope and fortunately hit the pin, which was nice, and went to about two or three feet. Things like that are what you need to win golf tournaments.”

The near hole-out was all the breathing room Day needed, and a par at 18 clinched his two-stroke victory, his second of the season (he also won the Farmers Insurance Open in February). Day was the only player to card four rounds in the 60s, but none came more hard-earned than Sunday’s 69.

With Wise nipping at his heels throughout, Day had trouble controlling the ball off the tee midway through his round. Despite leaving himself punch-outs under trees at Nos. 9, 11 and 12, the week’s best player in stroked gained: around the green scrambled to make par each time and keep his round on track.

“I said earlier I was fighting demons out there, because when you’re not hitting it good, it just feels like the life is getting sucked out of you,” Day said. “Just feels like you don’t have – the confidence is starting to dwindle, but you know that you’ve just got to keep pushing. I know that I have a lot of fight in me.”

With the win Day moves up seven spots in the Official World Golf Ranking to No. 7. Dustin Johnson holds onto the top spot for another week as Justin Thomas, who could have taken the mantle with a top-12 finish in Charlotte, settled for T-21 after a 1-under 70 on Sunday.

Wise finished two shots back in a tie for second with Nick Watney, who played with Day and made two birdies of his own Sunday on the Green Mile.

Phil Mickelson (T-5, -7), Rory McIlroy (T-16, -3) and Rickie Fowler (T-21, -2) all lurked within striking range as the final round began but were unable to mount a charge.

Tiger Woods never was able to put it all together at Quail Hollow, opening the week with missed putts and closing it Sunday with an array of errant shots. It was the first round since 2014 that Woods failed to record a birdie.

“The chances I did have, I missed them all,” Woods said following a Sunday 74 that landed him in a tie for 55th. “It was just a bad week, and the good news is wipe your hands clean and go on to the next one.”

Next up is the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where Si Woo Kim will try to defend his title and become the event’s first-ever repeat winner. Gwk

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